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Raven Black (Shetland Book 1)
Raven Black (Shetland Book 1)
Price: £4.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive Reading!, 14 Feb. 2013
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Couldn't put it down. Loved the characters, the atmosphere of the islands & the way of life so brilliantly described, and the thread of mystery and menace woven throughout the book. Loved it!

Come the Fear (Richard Nottingham Mysteries)
Come the Fear (Richard Nottingham Mysteries)
by Chris Nickson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a time machine taking you back to 18th century Leeds, 30 Aug. 2012
Come the Fear is the 4th book in the Richard Nottingham historical detective series. I've read them all and they are full of the atmosphere of the poverty-stricken nooks and crannies of historical Leeds - characterisation is a strong feature in Chris Nickon's writing, both of people and places.

If you like a well-written mystery with a sense of menace, like an authentic historical drama, like a book with rich characters and a strong sense of time and place - I recommend you read any of the books from Chris Nickson's Richard Nottingham series.

The Broken Token (2010)

Cold Cruel Winter (2011)

The Constant Lovers (2012)

Come the Fear (2012)

The Murder Wall (Kate Daniels)
The Murder Wall (Kate Daniels)
by Mari Hannah
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic police procedural with great characterization and finely constructed plot, 6 Aug. 2012
The Murder Wall is an intense and tough investigation into a series of murders which take place in and around Northumbria. In her role as Senior Investigating Officer for the first time, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels is out to prove her worth after failing to solve a double murder 12 months before. She is strong, determined and allows nothing to stand in her way, to the detriment of both professional and personal relationships.

With a very finely constructed plot, The Murder Wall is well paced and maintains tension throughout to provide a gripping read. As well as the tight plot one of the strengths of this book is the characterization. There is a full cast but they are all so well-developed even the minor characters stay with you, and there are many on the investigation team I felt drawn to, aside from Kate herself. The mystery surrounding the murderer, and also the causes of the sadness which drives Kate, are expertly woven into the detail of the investigation. It all feels so authentic I have no doubt the author has first-hand or close knowledge of a real murder enquiry and that it's not just from research. I thought I'd guessed who the villain was but was surprised to find out I was completely wrong.

This book would be ideal material for a television crime drama. In fact, that's exactly what it felt like as I was reading it - a drama being played out in my mind, to which I was a silent witness.

For those who like their crime novels, and police procedurals in particular, this come highly recommended.

Writing: A User Manual: A Practical Guide to Planning, Starting and Finishing a Novel
Writing: A User Manual: A Practical Guide to Planning, Starting and Finishing a Novel
by David Hewson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for all budding authors, 24 July 2012
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This is one of the most useful books I've read on writing. Written by David Hewson, a successful and highly respected crime novelist, who has trodden the tracks of the wannabe author as well as any.

Writing: A User Manual is a practical guide to the craft of planning, starting and finishing a novel.

My whole perception of this book is that Hewson genuinely wants to share the benefit of his experience to help you, as a budding author, to write THAT book. It's not a showy 'look how I did it' type of book, or a condescending 'you don't want to do it like that, you want to do like this' type either. It is a pure sharing of knowledge, from the first chapter where he talks through the planning of a novel right through to the last where he discusses how to tell when it's ready to be sent off to an agent or publisher.

The book is divided into 3 parts: Plan, Write, Deliver, and to demonstrate his recommendations throughout the book, Hewson uses a sample story: Charlie and the Mermaid. It begins with the seed of an idea, a paragraph where Charlie might meet a girl, and by the end of this manual there is a full-blown synopsis of the sample story. Hewson takes you through every little step of the way; developing the idea, creating an outline, building the blocks of the novel, identifying flaws, research, writers' tools, revision - you name it, it's all in here from beginning to end.

It's packed with 272 pages of useful information to help tackle that mammoth task by breaking the daunting process up into small chunks. He also includes some best practices for technology he has used for writing and revising, including word processing software and computing equipment.

I read this just after completing my first novel (should have read it beforehand!) but I've learnt a lot from David Hewson through this and will apply the approach to my second novel, which I'm just about to start.

Not only is this a valuable read for anyone aspiring to become a novelist, but there are probably a good few published authors out there who could benefit from reading this as well!

Requiem (Byland Crescent Book 1)
Requiem (Byland Crescent Book 1)
Price: £2.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Downton Abbey, you should enjoy this series too, 16 July 2012
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Requiem is book 1 of an epic saga involving the residents of Byland Crescent. It begins in 1878, set around the wool industry in Yorkshire, and starts with 14-year-old Albert Cowgill, determined to rise out of poverty and become his own boss - not an easy thing to achieve when you've no skill.

Requiem takes us through Albert's struggles and successes as he matures during the last decade of the Victorian era, and through to the Great War and the difficult years after, as he watches his own family and business flourish - but not without problems.

There are a lot of characters in the book to get to know, but it's written in such a way that the narrative flows and carries you along as the generations grow. And they're all well developed so you soon find yourself becoming attached to the ones you love but, like any large family, the Cowgill's have their fair share of scandal and evil-minded villains too. I especially liked James for his gentleness and goodness, but I also loved reading about the scheming Clarence Barker.

Requiem is a very interesting historical novel and reminded me of the hugely successful Downton Abbey series - so if you loved that you are more than likely to enjoy this book and the series too.

The next book out is Renaissance and I'm looking forward to seeing how the story progresses.

Watering the Olives
Watering the Olives
Price: £1.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written ideal light reading, 17 Jun. 2012
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Watering the Olives is a wonderfully written collection of short stories about traditional life on a small Greek island. The tales are humorously told by a fictional English writer called Vassili, who lives within the heart of a small village community on the island. The descriptions of the places and the way of life are so graphic that I was right there with Vassili as I read. Also, having lived on the Aegean coast myself, I was very impressed with the accuracy of the descriptions.

From stories that include love, jealously, scheming, matchmaking and, of course, tending olives, Watering the Olives consists of a complete tale in each chapter. So it makes for light, easy reading.

Warning: reading these stories will probably make you want to book your next holiday very soon after.

The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure
The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure
by Michael O'Byrne
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I've been looking for!, 11 Jun. 2012
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The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure by Michael O'Byrne is a great addition to any crime writer's toolkit - whether they are writing about true crime or fiction.

Michael O'Byrne was a career police officer, joining the force when he was 19 as a Constable and rising through to the rank of Chief Constable of Bedfordshire by the time he retired. He is now a crime writer himself and, as the title states, this book was written especially with crime writers in mind to provide a wealth of inside information on how things really work in the police force - specifically in the UK.

And that's exactly what it does.

Written in plain non-technical English, the guide is set out in a very logical way. Starting with how an investigation begins, going through the tools of the trade, discussing forensics, profiling and serial killers, as well as going through the structure and culture in the police force, amongst other topics.

The objective of the book is to help the crime writer become better informed with enough accurate information so they can adapt it into the fictional world and maintain credibility, or just to be used as a reference book.

I found it a very interesting read, particulary because of the way it was organised and written. It is now part of my writing toolkit and, hopefully, will give me a good base on which to build my very own detective novel ... one day.

Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace series Book 8)
Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace series Book 8)
Price: £4.74

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter James is on top form with Not Dead Yet, 10 Jun. 2012
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Not Dead Yet is, I feel, one of the better books in the latest of the Roy Grace series. The plot is well thought out with lots of twists and turns to keep the excitement going and it had me guessing right up until the surprising reveal; the pace is maintained throughout the book with the introduction of several dodgy characters, which Peter James is good at; and it's nice to see some of the backstage people in DS Roy Grace's team get some further development, including Cleo. Not Dead Yet is a lot more police procedural than I seem to remember the other books being, but that adds to the interest of the cases and gives more dimension to the investigations.

The only criticism for me is that I feel the Sandy saga has gone on for too long now and I really couldn't care anymore what happens there. This book would have worked for me even without any mention of Sandy, plus one other character who I felt was superfluous to the plot.

Overall it is a typical cliff-hanging, gripping Peter James novel with extra depth, more akin to the earlier books in the series.

Books in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace Series:

Dead Simple (2005)

Looking Good Dead (2006)

Not Dead Enough (2007)

Dead Man's Footsteps (2008)

Dead Tomorrow (2009)

Dead Like You (2010)

Dead Man's Grip (2011)

Not Dead Yet (2012)

The Dying Minutes: (Jacquot 7)
The Dying Minutes: (Jacquot 7)
by Martin O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book, infused with atmosphere and mystery - you won't want to put it down., 19 April 2012
The Dying Minutes by Martin O'Brien, set around the azure coastline of Marseilles, is the seventh in the detective novel series featuring the very likable, Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot. It begins with a gold bullion convoy being hijacked in 1972, of which part of the heist mysteriously disappears and becomes an unsolved case. Twenty seven years on, Chief Inspector Jacquot is recovering from gunshot wounds from a previous case (Blood Counts, book six in the series) and is on sick leave when he inherits a boat from an old fisherman who once knew his father. Jacquot is seduced by the elegant boat and life on the water, and it's not long before his inquisitive mind begins to wonder about its history and that of its ex-owner.

While Jacquot is discovering his sea legs and persuading his pregnant partner to keep the boat, his old flame Chief Inspector Isabelle Cassier, walks back into his life during the investigation of some brutal murders. The murders point to the missing gold and the involvement of two of the most feared gangland families on the coast. Isabelle seeks Jacquot's help with the investigation and he finds himself once again in close confinement with Isabelle as they work on the case together.

The Dying Minutes is beautifully written with a strong sense of place and atmosphere, transporting you right there to the South of France. It's a pure joy to read. The words create a realistic feel for life on the boat and in the harbour and villages around Marseilles, and you can almost taste the salt in the air, the exquisite wines and delicious food.

There are a lot of characters in this novel, which I found a little difficult to keep track of at first, but the chapters are short and introduce the well-defined players quickly so it wasn't long before they all slotted into place. The pace of the novel is steady and doesn't race along the pages but it's woven with mystery and an underlying sense of foreboding and is all together an exciting and unpredictable read.

I really liked the characters and how they interacted, especially Chief Inspector Jacquot. Above all, it's beautifully written, with a plot and characters that have been well thought out and delivered with a perfectly timed pace. I highly recommend this book, and now have an impatient need to check out the rest of the series.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2015 5:33 PM BST

Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping standalone thriller, makes for an addictive read, 17 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Headhunters (Kindle Edition)
Headhunters by Jo Nesbø is a standalone thriller and very different to the Harry Hole detective series. Written from the main character's point of view, Headhunters is the story of Roger Brown, a highly successful head hunter specialising in the appointment of executive directors for top Norwegian companies. He is one of the best in his field and not at all modest about it. In order to maintain the affluent life style he and his art dealer wife, Diana, have become accustomed to, Roger has a side line set up in art theft - specialising in particular works that bring in large sums of money for a single heist. Think The Thomas Crown Affair.

The first part of the book is a steady, interesting character portrayal of Roger Brown, written in the first person with a dark humour and an insight into the mind of this professional and likeable criminal.

Then Roger meets Clas Greve, ex CEO of one of the biggest GPS technology companies in Europe, who would be a perfect placement for one of his clients. Not only that, Greve is also known to possess a rare piece of artwork that could make Roger rich beyond his wildest dreams and solve all of his problems. But what Roger is also about to discover is that he has met his match in Greve.

The second part of the novel takes an entirely different direction where we find Roger Brown's life turned completely upside down as he battles wills against Clas Greve.

The narrative captures your attention with the inner-most thoughts and psyche of the main character. The plot is intricate, if not slightly far-fetched in the second part, but totally credible and entertaining in the first part. Headhunters is perfectly translated from Norwegian to English by the excellent Don Bartlett - you'd never guess it was a translation.

In all, a highly entertaining and gripping thriller.

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